Cause Marketing Cooperation

There’s many ways to activate cause marketing, but the most common way… and usually the least expensive… is with public relations.

And one story that you must master when 'efforting' women’s magazines is a pretty standard transactional cause marketing pitch; buy our thing and a portion of the proceeds benefits this fine cause. Get the details right and it’ll probably get you coverage.

But it’s the classic case of good news/bad news.

The good news is you’ve got a pretty good chance at getting coverage in women’s magazines like Ladies Home Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Allure, Elle, Vogue, Lucky, Shape, Town and Country, and Self. The Alden Keene Cause Marketing Database has cause marketing stories from all of these women’s magazines and more.

The bad news, you’ll almost certainly have to share the coverage with other cause marketing efforts which may be thematically similar to yours, as in the story at the left from the August 2011 Redbook. Magazine editors love, love, love to publish this kind of story.

What do you do?
You first job is to try and make your cause marketing story stand out in a way that others can’t or don’t. Barring that, my suggestion is that you own your cause marketing story for what it is (and isn’t). If you can’t imagine a way to truly distinguish your cause marketing narrative, then I suggest as a fallback position that you approach would-be ‘competitors’ and enlist their cooperation in pitching your collective stories together.

In most cases the big PR agencies would balk at this idea. The only exception I can think of is if they’re representing a whole catalog of cause marketing campaigns in house. In such a case they might consider packaging the cause marketing campaigns they represent together, much the way sports agents will package multiple clients together in certain trades.

Here’s why a package deal might be a good idea for multiple cause marketing campaigns. Suppose that in this Redbook story all seven of these campaigns decided to pitch their stories together. On its own your cause marketing campaign probably has a PR budget of approximately 1/7th of what it would be with six other partners. Combined you have seven times the resources you have by yourself.

This approach probably requires that the charities and/or the sponsors contact willing peers and then jointly hire a single agency capable of pulling off a seven-way pitch.

Granted there’s real risks involved. What happens if the magazine’s editors choose stories from only five of the seven partners?

But I think these risks are outweighed by the potential rewards of being able to bring many more resources to bear than one cause marketing campaign could by itself.

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